Forfeiture in Drug Cases

(Forfeiture in Drug Cases) "The statutes pertaining to drug offenses authorize the forfeiture of more than just the proceeds of the offense. Under 21 U.S.C. §§ 853(a) and 881(a) (criminal and civil forfeiture, respectively), a court may order the forfeiture of both the drug proceeds and any real or personal property used to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, the drug offense. These are the statutes that a federal law enforcement agency or federal prosecutor would use to take a car, boat, gun, airplane, or farm, away from a drug dealer.

Forfeiture and Police Budgets

(Forfeiture and Police Budgets) "For many years, law enforcement agencies around the nation have faced shrinking budgets.4 Police administrators have been forced to develop creative budgeting strategies, such as securing federal grants and partnering with community foundations.5 Though it is an enforcement tool, asset forfeiture can assist in the budgeting realm by helping to offset the costs associated with fighting crime. Doing what it takes to undermine the illicit drug trade is expensive and time-consuming.

Standards and Burden of Proof

(Standards and Burden of Proof) "In 2000, Congress passed the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, which now requires law enforcement agencies to demonstrate by 'a preponderance of the evidence,' rather than merely a showing of 'probable cause,' that the property to be seized is linked to criminal activity. Moreover, the government now has the burden of proving that property was involved in a crime, rather than the previous standard under which the owner was required to prove that the property was not the product of criminal involvement."

Profitability of Forfeiture

(Profitability of Forfeiture) "There can be few components of law enforcement programmes which actually cost nothing. The asset forfeiture provision of the federal law for crop suppression (relating mainly to cannabis in the State of Kentucky), proved to be such a case, costing the United States Government $13.7 million, but yielding a return of $53 million in 1991, or almost $4 in assets seized for every $1 invested by the Drug Enforcement Administration."

Percentage of Local Police Departments Receiving Forfeited Assets

(Percentage of Local Police Departments Receiving Forfeited Assets) "Thirty-six percent of all local police departments received money, property, or goods from a drug asset forfeiture program during 2002 (table 32). These departments employed 78% of all local police officers. At least 80% of the departments in each population category of 25,000 or more had drug asset forfeiture receipts."

Police Forfeiture Practices Maximize Potential for Revenue

(Police Forfeiture Practices Maximize Potential for Revenue) "We did not seek to determine whether forfeiture activities ultimately reduce crime or affect drug-related arrest patterns. However, we found some evidence that police agencies engage in forfeiture practices that maximize their potential for revenue generation. Specifically, we found that significantly fewer equitable-sharing payments are collected in generous forfeiture states, which is consistent with the policing-for-profit allegation put forth by forfeiture's critics (e.g., Blumenson and Nilsen, 1998)."

Standards of Proof

(Standards of Proof) "In a civil forfeiture action, the government need only prove by a preponderance of evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture. Criminal forfeiture, which is apparently much less common than civil forfeiture (Hyde, 1995), usually accompanies criminal charges and is more difficult because of the proof-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard (Warchol, Payne, and Johnson, 1996:53-54). Civil forfeiture may thus be pursued more frequently because of the lower standard of proof.